"One can have breakfast in Kuala Lumpur, lunch in Singapore and be back in time for dinner in Kuala Lumpur. This is the shape of things to come…”
A high-speed rail link between Singapore and Malaysia cutting the journey time to 90 minutes by 2026 has moved closer to reality with a major announcement this week. Senior Ministers from the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding OU, signalling the firmest commitment yet to the project, first announced in September 2010. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. A bilateral agreement is expected to be finalized by the end of the year and points to both a megaproject with significant tendering opportunities and warming relations between the two countries.
It currently takes about four hours to drive the 350km from Singapore to the Malaysian capital. Flights between the two capitals take around an hour, but considering the additional time to get to and from the airport, security checks, this makes rail a more attractive option than taking the plane. The HSR trains are expected to be 10 cars long, with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car. The rail link would have six stations in addition to its terminals in Singapore and Bandar Malaysia, about 7km from Kuala Lumpur city centre.
The MoU outlines the key points of agreement on the project, including technical parameters, commercial model, customs, immigration and quarantine clearance, safety and security matters, regulatory framework as well as project management, a joint release by Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.
The Singapore-Malaysia High-Speed Rail (HSR) project was signed by the neighbouring countries on Tuesday (Jul 19th) with the signatories the Singapore Transport Minister and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan along with Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
At the signing, Asia One reported that PM Lee focused on the economic benefits that would come from being "next door to one another, one and a half hours away. That means opportunities for our business people, opportunities for our tourists, opportunities for people from other countries … you can get both destinations for the price of one."
Mr Najib added "I share PM (Lee) Hsien Loong's optimism about impact on this project to the economies of both Malaysia and Singapore.
"You can do an initial study in terms of the multiplier effect that this project will bring to both countries in terms of increase in GNI (gross national income), in terms of jobs. For example, we expect the creation of almost 30,000 jobs through the implementation of the HSR.
"So when you ask the question of how it’s going to impact our economies, the short answer is that is will be a game-changer."
To hear from and meet Yuslizar Daud, (Head of Rail Division, Land Public Transport Commission Malaysia (SPAD)) and Sim Wee Meng (Senior Group Director Rail, Land Transport Authority Singapore) amongst other regional rail readers book your free ticket to SmartRail Asia in Bangkok, 1st - 2nd December 2016 today!
Singapore Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong hailed the signing of the MoU and the projected completion of the HSR by 2026 “if all goes well”. In a post on his Facebook page, he wrote: "The major pieces of the project are now in place. We'll have to work hard together over the next 10 years to implement the plans."
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who was at the signing, posted photos of the ceremony on his Facebook page. "I can still recall taking the old KTM train with my parents for the overnight journey from Singapore to KL." Dr Balakrishnan added: "Looking forward to making the 90-minute journey to KL once the High-Speed Rail is completed. The MOU signed today is a major step and reflects the flourishing Singapore - Malaysia ties.”
No estimate has been given for the cost but media in Malaysia report that it could be in excess of $10 billion. Rail companies from China, Japan, South Korea and Europe have expressed interest in the project. It is likely that China will be the favourite with strong ties in both ASEAN economies.
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